Posts Tagged With: Recanati

Poor Poisoned Pusses, Ankle Biters and Events!

Buonasera a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been a little on the stressful side here! I shall start with the most stressful and work my way in a random fashion to the least stressful…

The Terrible Incident of the Poisoned Cats

For a short time last week I was left in charge of the neighbour’s collection of animals. My neighbour has countless chickens, rabbits and about 9 cats.  The morning after she left, I found one of the cats, Batfink’s girlfriend (Batfink is my cat), in an awful state – frothing at the mouth, meowing a very mournful little meow and convulsing. Poor little thing. I phoned the vet who asked me to take her to see him, which I was just about to do until I then noticed Batfink frothing at the mouth as well. Suspicious, I checked up on the others and they all seemed well although Storm, a sweet little black cat, was missing. Eventually I located him unable to move in a field, he was frothing at the mouth as well. Three ill cats! The vet took pity on me and came out and took them all to his practice. It turns out they had eaten slug pellets. Generally cats don’t eat them but it emerges there are some types of slug pellet that are very appealing and yet very poisonous to cats. Poor Batfink’s girlfriend didn’t make it, which I’m really sad about. I do miss her. Batfink and Storm thankfully pulled through. By the time the slug pellet theory materialized, another of the cats had been poisoned. Luckily he pulled through as well. Shortly after I managed to locate and resolve what I thought was the source of the pellets (a delicate situation in itself – I fear it may have been another cat loving neighbour who had been unwittingly using the pellets and I didn’t want to upset him). All has been well for a few days and then, Storm showed up in an awful state frothing at the mouth again. He’s currently having an overnighter with the vet so fingers crossed! Perhaps I should train to be a vet?!  I think it would be a less expensive situation overall with the way things are going!

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This is one of the new kittens, thankfully unaffected by the Slug Pellet Saga this week. I think I’m going to call her Cindy for her little mole on her lip. In fact, she might be a he. I’ll have a re-think if so,  I don’t want to give him a complex.

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Awwwwwwwwwww…

Italian Funerals

Sadly, I had to go to a funeral this week here in Italy. It’s only the second funeral that I’ve attended and my first in Italy so I didn’t know quite what to expect. They have a quick turnaround time here, with funerals taking place only one or two days following the person’s death. When someone dies, they ring the local church bells and then a poster goes up on several memorial notice boards in town which tell you who has died and when the funeral is. The funeral I went to was closed casket, I think they often are but there does seem to be an opportunity to see the person before the funeral at their home or at the hospital. The Italians are ‘gobsmacked’ by the length of time it takes us in the UK to bury people – their main confusion is around where the people are put between the time of death and burial. I’m no expert. I told them we have special buildings with large fridges. That’s what it seems like in the serial killer documentaries at least.

The church service itself was probably much like a church service in the UK. They do not have an Order of Service but they do have a sort of memento you can take away. It’s usually got a photos of the person and a comforting quote. People wear whatever they usually wear to the funeral. I wore a rather plain dress and felt positively glamorous in comparison to almost everyone else. They go to the cemetery after the church. People aren’t often buried in the ground here – they’re slotted into a wall. If you’re well off, you’ll have a family tomb, otherwise you’re slotted into a large generic wall. There doesn’t seem to be much said at the cemetery itself and it’s all quite a practical affair. They have a bricklayer in situ who actually seals the coffin in the wall there and then. They don’t seem to have the concept of a wake and there’s not generally a gathering after the event. It was obviously a very sad occasion of course but quite interesting at the same time to see how different it is to the way things are done in the UK.

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This is a bit of a blurry example that I took years ago at the cemetery in Camerano

Walks not to do in Elcito…

Elcito is a tiny little village atop Monte San Vicino or at least atop a sort of mountainous outcrop of it. I found it very evocative. It seems totally abandoned apart from a garden and a little cafe/bar. It’s lovely to just sit in what must have been a little meeting spot and look out at the scenery.

It’s set in a lovely area of Le Marche which I haven’t really explored. There are some good walks around Elcito. Alas, we didn’t do one of them. Instead we walked downhill 2 or 3 km, realised that we weren’t even close to doing one of the recognised walks and that there wasn’t really an adequate way of getting back unless we went back the way we came so we had to walk back up again. All in all, it was an unsatisfactory walk but there was gorgeous scenery which more than made up for it. I’m hoping to go back soon and do a decent walk!

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There’s some beautiful flowers out at the moment. Anyone know what tree this blossom belongs to? On a separate note, the blossom from the Acacia (seems to be called Black Locust in English) with its white blossom is so prevalent here that it seems like it’s snowing on a windy day!

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Sitting in the little grassed over meeting point, I spent ages photographing the very busy bees!

Tagliatelle making

In this week’s successful news is a new found appreciation for pasta making. I really like tagliatelle but it’s more expensive than other types of pasta and being the miser that I am, I find it difficult to justify buying it. Now that I know how cheap it is to make, it’s even more difficult to justify buying it! To make tagliatelle for 2, you just need 200g of flour and two eggs. My eggs come from the next door neighbour and the wheat is bought from a mill in Gualdo so it’s all quite nice and fresh with organic ingredients. I’m not a pasta aficionado but it doesn’t taste bad either. The only issue is that it requires more time than getting it out of a packet! I don’t buy bread these days either – I make a big batch every now and then, cut it into slices and then freeze them so I can just take out a slice as and when I want it. I think I might start doing that with pasta as well (not slices)!

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Watercolour class

I’m having a great time at the watercolour class on Friday’s. It’s a really difficult  medium – it’s definitely something, I think anyway, that requires a bit of guidance and tuition first. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally. I’ve done a couple of portraits and some landscapes. You’d think landscapes would be easier but I’ve struggled more with them than anything else! I’ve also found a good group for artists in Le Marche too and so I’m hoping to get out in the field with them to get some more practice in. It’s a very relaxed medium as you just can’t rush otherwise you’ll ruin your painting. You paint a bit, and when you can’t do anymore you can just sit and admire the scenery in the sunshine and wait for your painting to dry a bit before you do the  next thing. Lovely!

Antiques fair in Recanati

Now that summer is coming there’s an increasing number of events out and about. One of my expat friends was over a couple of weeks ago and what we always seem to do together is to find events to go to that are either cancelled or just perhaps don’t even exist in the first place! We decided this time we’d attempt to go to an antiques fair in Recanati, a town in Le Marche towards the coast. However, during the drive, the heavens opened and it seemed even more improbable that there would be a fair. I lowered my expectations of a successful antiques fair visit from an already low 10% to 0%. However, we were surprised to find that the fair was on and people (albeit not many) were there! We finished off in an English pub stunning the barmen with our darts playing prowess (they probably hadn’t seen anyone so consistently miss the dartboard before).

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My friend found some crystal glasses for an absolute bargain. I, however, wander around all antiques markets in a state of amazement at the sheer number of ghastly things brought together in one place. I’m so busy concentrating on nightmarish ornaments that alas, I suspect I miss out on genuine bargains.

Scarfiotti Race in Sarnano

A couple of weeks ago the 26th Scarfiotti Sarnano to Sassotetto car race was held. Once a year, Sarnano is full to the brim with fancy cars, be they formula one or ancient antique style cars. They have a time trial up the mountain. Sarnano has about 3300 inhabitants. I wouldn’t class it as a totally sleepy little village but it’s approaching that description. I am quite frankly stunned that once a year, apparently reasonably well-known people come with their reasonably well-known cars to compete in what is apparently a reasonably well-known competition. Isn’t that lovely?! I’m quite proud of my little town! It’s just a shame that it rained almost the whole time and on the main race day, there was just so much water that it would be difficult to have distinguished road from waterfall. Anyway, perhaps next year I can see if they’ll let me compete with the Fiat Panda.It’s a good little car, I think I could take on the cars below…

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This car clearly has nothing on my Fiat Panda.

Abbadia di Fiastra

There’s a series of 3 concerts set in the woods at Abbadia di Fiastra (Le Marche) which have taken place over the last couple of Sundays with the last one this coming Sunday. Abbadia di Fiastra is a lovely setting. There’s an abbey and two or three restaurants and lots of countryside to explore. The concert was good and quite atmospheric set in the woods.

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There were a lot of people at the event… Here’s a photo. I was testing out my “dreamy” setting on the camera!

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The first of the three concerts was a flute quartet

Festa dell’Europa in Macerata

Every year in Macerata there’s a festa to celebrate European food of all different types. The UK was represented. This place below (alas blurry) was serving fish and chips and burgers! (I feel like we were cheated a little in terms of quality, probably understandably given the lack of equipment). It was a good and lively event with lots of stalls and lots of people. We ended up eating in another English style place. They served coleslaw (or “coldslow” as they called it), chips, onion rings and some sort of chicken quiche affair for meat eaters.

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The highs and lows of bike riding

The bike riding is going reasonably well. I say only ‘reasonably well’ because it’s not serving its primary purpose which was to get fitter and lose weight. I shall be leaving my body to medical science. The more exercise I do and the healthier I eat, the fatter I become and the worse my general fitness becomes (thought I am getting better on the bike). However, I have accepted my fate and have discovered other unforeseen advantages to going out on the bike: I’m often awestruck by the scenery and this way, I get to see more than if I’m walking and have a bit more flexibility than going with a car where I can’t stop and admire the scenery or take photos quite so easily. If it was just exercise (that seems to yield no/negative results) I probably would have given up by now, but it’s nice to see the countryside in a different way. A couple of days ago I came across a porcupine happily running towards me (I was less happy about it running towards me but it was great to see nonetheless! I’ve only ever seen dead ones at the side of the road). And look at the countryside below…. this was taken the other day from a ride to Gualdo, one of the closest towns. Isn’t it just beautiful?!

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In addition to trying to get up hills and mountains, I’ve discovered the most pressing challenge is how to avoid getting bitten by dogs. They all seem to be trained from an early age to attack cyclists. Going up hills with large rabid looking dogs biting at my ankles certainly adds a level of excitement and gives me that all important motivational push when I’m flagging. Perhaps as well as padded cycle shorts I could get padded ankle protectors. Anyway, so far my record is 23km which will seem like nothing to proper cyclists but half of that was up an entirely vertical incline.

I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks! I hope you’re all having a good Monday 🙂

Ciao a tutti,

x

 

 

 

 

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The dolce vita, settling in and seeing the sites…

Ciao!

Allora (well!), I’m pleased to say I’m settling in nicely 🙂 So far, no regrets or doubts about whether I did the right thing – I’m pretty content! The view from my apartment is just amazing.

Camerano view from my apartment

View from my apartment

You can see at least three towns from the balcony off my kitchen but very difficult to see in the photo above (I need my decent camera which I had to leave at home!): Osimo (right), Castelfidardo (middle) and Loreto (left) and in the background the very majestic Siblini Mountains. They rise up to the cloud level here in the photo – again, my camera’s not good enough to pick it up. They’re difficult to see sometimes anyway because of La Foschia (a sort of summer haze) but it’s pretty breathtaking when you can.

Camerano is perched on the top of a hill – a lot of the Italian towns/villages are, around here. There’s a lovely paved area with a viewpoint – in a couple of weeks there’ll be chairs and tables out from the bar that’s close by so that’ll be nice to go to in the evenings. I’ve taken loads of pictures – I’m going to try and write up about each town I visit but it’s taking ages! Anyway, click here for the main Le Marche page and click on the links to the various towns for photo’s and in time, hopefully more!

It has a wood right at the top which has well kept gravel paths but it’s very small as you’d probably expect for the top of a hill. You wouldn’t really want to meet any axe murderers in there – there’s not really much scope to escape (see mother – I am baring my safety in mind :-)! Admittedly I acknowledged that, and went in anyway but still…Forewarned is forearmed).

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Wood at the top of the hill in Camerano

I hear there’s some market stalls selling fruit and veg in the morning most days but I’ve not actually been out before school yet so not seen them. I’ll do that next week I think. There’s a bigger market on Wednesday selling clothes. In the afternoons, all the old men in Camerano seem to hang around in gangs outside the shops. The women it turns out, are busy cooking dinner at home. I am not naturally suited to the male/female role division here and it’s probably one area of the Italian culture I’ve no intention of becoming suited to either!

Most evenings so far, I’ve had dinner back at the apartment whilst watching CSI USA dubbed in Italian and very handily available with Italian subtitles.

The people are nice. So far, I’ve met:

  • Marco and his wife Ursula, Cristina my teacher, Jeno a fellow (and only other) student in my class and Marta (who’s doing teacher training to become an Italian tutor herself). Marco I’ve talked about, he’s great, really like him. Cristina is very good – talks fast but really knows her stuff and explains thing well. I get the meaning of what she’s saying pretty much all the time but probably understand about half the words – hopefully I’ll get better! The entire lesson is in Italian – but it’s only for 2 – 2.5 hours a day. Jeno is Hungarian, retired, and is studying here for another 3 or 4 weeks (having been here already for 2). He’s incredibly, incredibly friendly. Over here, he lives in a place called Marchelli which is a part of Numana (still in Le Marche). It’s right on the coast. He invited me back to see his apartment earlier in the week and it’s great. He’s got a massive balcony overlooking a lovely sea view (I’ve got a sea view too– it’s just 5km away rather than 50m away ;-)) Marta is really nice – talks even faster than Cristina. She’s given me some advice on getting a job and websites to look at and she’s even offered to help me with a little notice for getting interest from people wanting to learn English.
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Marchelli

  • An old lady in the Tabbacheria. I bought a postcard, stamp and notebook – had to ask for it all as well as it was all behind the counter. She said my Italian was good – I like her ;-). That was until I tried to explain that I wanted nail varnish remover. My Italian is somewhat limited at the moment on beauty products so I went with the fall back mime option (which was impressive in its detail and complexity involving my toenails, pretend cotton wool and a pretend medium sized bottle of nail varnish remover). She tried to sell me some nail varnish remover wipes for 13 Euros. 13! Pah. And I thought she was my friend…
  • Some scary men in the Trattoria. The Trattoria is not particularly welcoming I have to say. The door is shut all the time and it’s difficult to tell whether it’s open or not. I’ve learnt that if I’m ever in doubt as to whether a shop/cafe is open or closed, it’s best to assume it’s closed.  I mean, I really do admire the Italian work ethic – one should work to live, not live to work. They’ve got that in the bag. But, I can’t help but think that when one wants lunch and the shop which sells lunch is closed at lunchtime and several hours either side, that there’s scope to introduce some minor improvements to suit the consumer like being open at lunchtime. Anyway, the Trattoria was full of old men at tables looking at us (I was with the other student) and we weren’t even sure who worked there or not. Nobody said anything. All conversation stopped. If I wasn’t with my fellow classmate who’d thankfully been there before, I suspect I would have backed out. There were no menus but the guy who eventually did come out and to give him credit, was reasonably friendly, gave us a choice of a couple of options (we had pomodoro basilica – basically tomato/basil pasta) which was very tasty indeed. Completely worth being intimidated for 🙂  And actually, once we’d sat down, the constant staring diminished to sporadic staring only so all worked out well in the end!!!
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Trattoria in Camerano – Stick with it, the food is worth it!

  • Nicole, she’s an estate agent and works in Numana. The other student got his apartment through her a week or two back and so he thought it would be good if I spoke to her if I wanted somewhere to stay longer term. But Numana is only busy in the summer and then quiet the rest of the year and she really only deals with holiday lets rather than people looking to stay in the longer term. She showed me an apartment but it was tiny really and for the double the amount I’m paying here – probably slightly nicer done out than my apartment here but I could look at the view from here all day whereas the view there was of someone’s garage.
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Taken from Numana towards Mount Conero

  • A couple of guys in a pizzeria in Numana – there were very friendly, particularly the owner and the pizza was fab.
  • The guy who serves ice cream in the gelateria in Camerano. I asked his advice on ice cream (honestly, as if I need advice on ice-cream…) and I think I got an extra scoop, whipped cream and a sort of waffley extra bit as a result. I’m going to do that again. In fact, my plan is as follows: go to the gelateria every other day, and in the other days (in order to avoid becoming a total giant), go to a cafe. I have selected my cafe, I’ve just not gone in there yet.
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Piazza Roma in Camerano taken from the Gelateria

  • Catherine, a very nice girl from New Zealand who teaches English and works in a hotel in Senigallia. She’s given me her contact details so I’ll definitely be getting in touch. She has a friend over here that comes from Portsmouth, not far from where I grew up so that might be a nice link too. She thinks, as does Marco, that mother tongue English speakers are in demand here as there just aren’t many of us in the area.
  • Another Marco and Simone. I had a very confusing conversation with the Original Marco who was describing his two friends and how they’d moved to London together but how they no longer saw each other anymore which was sad etc.but that they were going to come around for dinner (on the night I was too). I asked whether that might be awkward and he couldn’t comprehend why. We had a long conversation about it – as we do all the time because I have to go through an insanely long description of everything I don’t know/remember the name of (most things) e.g. “Do you have a long wooden rod that has something inside that I can use to write with on paper?”, rather than “Got a pencil?”.  Anyway, I think a good 15 minutes later, it turned out that Simone is a man and that they went to London as friends and so of course it wouldn’t be awkward! Anyway, Simone and Marco are both very friendly and might be some other people to hang out with potentially.

In terms of other stuff I’ve been doing – every week we get a programme of activities – this week we went to a town called Recanati and we had an authentic Italian cookery lesson (with Marco’s German wife :-)) followed by eating it with Marco’s family and friends at his house. Think this week we’ll be going to Mount Conero for a walk, potentially to see the “Two Sisters” – a couple of big rocks out in the water that’s inaccessible apart from what sounds like a rather perilous walk down some cliffs or by boat. I’m quite looking forward to that. I’d probably be looking forward to it a bit more if I had anything other than flip flops and a pair of gripless trainers.

Recanati is a very nice little town/village/paese with a lot of cultural things to do and museums etc. It’s set in some really lovely countryside – rolling green / golden hills, lots of pretty flowers, vineyards and olive groves. In terms of cultural stuff – despite making a concerted effort to pay attention for the purposes of being enlightening for the blog, I just can’t retain that kind of info so here are some photo’s instead and click on the link if you’re interested in anything else! There’s a museum sort of exhibition next on the 18th May where I think all/most of the museums in Le Marche are free. Much better than that, on the 25th/26th May, there’s some kind of Cantina Festival where you basically visit people’s cellars and drink the wine they’ve made. Sounds good – I’ll try and find out a bit more about it for the next blog.

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Yesterday, I went to Portonovo with the other student on the course. Portonovo is a gorgeous bay below some cliffs. Incredibly picturesque. We didn’t stay for long though – only because it’s a flat fee with parking and we were too stingy to pay for the full day (only 4,50 euros or something) and then we headed to Senigallia.

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From the beach in Portonovo

Senigallia is on the seaside – it’s got a 10km sandy beach which is lovely to walk

along. At the moment, it’s all pretty empty and shut, but I think it’ll become a lot busier next month. The Italians appear to take a mass holiday from work from June and go to the seaside for weeks/months at a time. They really do have a fabulous work/life balance!

But it means though that the towns get a bit run down during the winter months and in the summer months, it’s a bit too commercialised and family orientated for me. It’s made me realise that I’d much rather live somewhere in the hills/mountains with a view but close enough to go to the sea when I want.

Senigallia has a castle – it’s 2 Euros to wander around it and look at the exhibition. The exhibition is a bit sparse and the bits that were there are a bit hard going to read but it’s cheap and it’s nice to see out from the top so I’d recommend it.

In terms of other stuff I’ve been up to, I’ve got a little checklist of things to do every day: homework from class, Italian verb conjugation exercises (using the wonderful Italian Verb Trainer app on my phone), some Italian reading, some Italian writing (in the form of a diary), and then some kind of exercise every day and something creative every day. I’ve done neither of the last two but exercise is difficult here. Marco’s shown me a reasonably flattish bit of land where I can go “jogging” which I might attempt today. There’s a swimming pool quite close but I think it’ll be traumatic to get to at least the first time.  I’ve done nothing at all creative bar take my paper and pencils out with me everywhere I go and I’d hoped I’d be a bit more creative than that! Hoping to do some this week.

Just as an aside for things people might want to bring me over (!): Squash – you can’t buy it here (as in the juice concentrate you mix with water). You can just buy juice, which is obviously nice but expensive so I’ve been mixing it with water but I’m not entirely convinced by that concept. And multivitamins appear to be very expensive and surrounded in pig bone (gelatine). So in an ideal world, I would quite like squash and pigless multivitamins. And the washing up liquid has the consistency of water, not washing up liquid. Having said all that, I would much rather be without them but with grissini and Stuffer’s yogurt (not together mind). So all in all, Italy is coming out very much on top.

Anyway, seems a lot of information, sorry! I’ll aim to do smaller updates little and often rather than epics every now and then! 🙂

Buon giornata!

xxx

Been to any of the places mentioned? Got any hints and tips? Feedback below!

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